I have to be honest today. I have cried all day, night and again this morning. I know this is part of this fallen world, and this sadness happens all the time, everyday. However, some how, some way this little girl touched me and won over my heart the first time I read her blog. I think it is because so much of her and so many of her photos posted, reminded me of Butterfly. Cora, only one month older than Morgan.
I was so excited to get on my blog, to click on Cora's blog and see her update yesterday, truly expecting to hear good news. We were praying that her lungs would start opening all the way so to get her off her oxygen. The last post that her parents left were with praises that all seemed to be quiet for Cora for the day. As soon as I opened the blog and read those words "Cora is with Jesus today", I just started holding my face and saying "oh no! oh no!" as I started to cry. Mark quickly came to see what was the matter with me.
We were on our way out the door to church and as I sat there in church yesterday, I couldn't stay focused on the message. I kept fading in and out on Cora and her parents. I can't explain the amount of pain and anxiety I have for them. You would think that I knew this family and this little girl all her life, this is how much I am struggling with this.
To keep me a little busy, I went to the hospital to visit my friend and her little girl Madi. If you remember, I photographed Madi, Lindsay and Brad engagement photos a few months back. Madi, also fighting an ear infection, had a severe allergic reaction to her medication had put her taking. She swelled up so bad that her finger nails were blue and she couldn't walk on her feet. Her body broke out with these massive welts/hives all over body. She appears to be in a lot of pain, and very uncomfortable when the medication wears down. Her little body begins to itch all over and she just claws at herself. They have kept her in the hospital for 2 nights now to see if they have gotten it all under control. I stayed for a couple of hours yesterday, letting Lindsay go home to take a nap and get stuff she needed for another sleepless night in the hospital. Madi and I played, watched Mickey Mouse Club House and I fed her a grilled cheese. I just wanted to kiss her boo-boo's all over her little body, and make them and the pain go away. Please pray that she gets to go home soon and that this situation is under control and her body can start getting rid of the rash and painful itch.
On my way home, I begin to cry again. I get home and I just hold Morgan as tight as I can, so thankful for my two children. Hunter is with daddy this weekend. However, I couldn't help but wonder..... wonder because I believe my children are healthy, just as Cora's parents believe she was a normal healthy 11 month old baby, only fighting an ear infection. Of course my mind and my questions start wondering and consuming my thoughts. How is it that this cancer could get to stage 4 and the doctors not have noticed it? Morgan has had check ups every month since she was born because I divided her shots into 2 at a time. How did this cancer go unnoticed? How can I pay more attention to symptoms in both of my children if there are any underlying things taking place in their bodies?
What breaks my heart is reading through Cora's blog. Her mommy writing and posting about Cora having a black-eye for "no reason" in some of the Christmas photos. Now they know why she wasn't getting over her ear infections and why she had a black eye all of the sudden. Her little body was fighting so hard with this cancer eating her away on the inside, while it went unnoticed or visible on the outside. That is VERY sad and scary to me.
Not only that, I feel I have to not think about this so much, as hard as that is because if I continue to allow my thoughts to wonder, I find myself with anxiety over it all. I cried so hard last night laying in bed. I woke up a couple of times in the middle of the night with anxiety, trying to catch my breath, my heart racing, imagining the mother of this little girl waking up in the dark screaming out Cora's name. Its almost too painful to even write. The first thing to my mind as I woke up this morning, reminding myself it wasn't a dream and I begin to cry again, only to think about this mother probably wanting God to just take her away too. I can't imagine getting out of bed today. I can't imagine, the moment they told me my daughter was gone. I can't imagine the moment they take her body away for me to no longer hold, kiss or touch. I can't imagine, the pain, the heartache and the shock that this mommy and daddy are experiencing. Their only child, their first child and a child of only 11 months old. Thought to have been so healthy, normal and beautiful. To only have been so sick on the inside for however long.
It all happened so fast for this family. They went in with a healthy baby fighting an ear infection, found a mass on her stomach and liver area. Find out it's stage 4-cancer, they check her into the hospital, and have a picture of her smiling as a normal baby would be. In a matter of days, only days, she turns south, having multiple surgeries, cemo and wires put in and out of her body. Her body was so little, and too weak to continue and she let go. Only in a matter of days and what was thought to only be a stubborn ear infection. One minute you are holding your healthy baby girl, and the next she is taken away from you forever.
I don't know enough about cancer to know weather or not that her stage 4 cancer to her liver was able to grow that quickly, or has it been growing since she was born? How can doctors or parents be more aware of this? I asked Mark yesterday, as if he would have an answer or something, "why can't they screen children of small ages for cancer as part of a routine check-up?"
I look at Morgan, and she has been a huge part of my life for 10 months now. I see her laugh and play, and she seems so healthy. How can you not wonder about the unknown? This is where we put our faith in God, but at the same time, you don't want to be in denial or seem unconcerned for your children.
I prayed to God to help put visions of a happy, healthy and pain free Cora in my head, running around, jumping and smiling. It only last for a minute and my mind races back over to mourn with the parents. Almost, as if I feel guilty, unless I am hurting with them. I ask "is there something God wants us to learn from this?" What are we being taught? Or is this simply another sad situation caused by our fallen world?
Being at the hospital yesterday and seeing all those families and young children in there. Oh how I am so thankful for God's mercy and grace he has constantly given me. I read blogs about families dealing with this and their unbreakable faith. I only pray that if God chose me to experience something like this, that I continue my faith and walk with Him. I will be honest, I have said such thoughts in my head, praying that God to please not put me through such test. Not because I fear I will not have a strong enough faith, but simply because I am selfish and I want my kids here with me, alive and healthy. I am so abundantly thankful.
God, I am abundantly thankful for where my life is today. That my kids are here with me another day. That my family is together here anther day. I know you love us, that you want to prosper us, Lord, and I trust you and I give you my life, my children, my family, my marriage, Lord. I give it all to you and trust your will and plan for all of us.
Lord, I pray right now, not only for Cora's parents, but for all the hurting families suffering today. I know children who are hurting because of lost parents. I know parents who are hurting because of list children. It is so hard Lord to witness and watch others go through such pain. I feel so helpless and I wish there were more I can do. Lord, if there is more I can do, please show me what I can do. How can I be of help, comfort and support, Lord?
Today, is different, Lord. I see everything with a little more detail. I am reminded again to enjoy the small things that at the end of the day are the big things. To enjoy my children at all times. To enjoy my husband Lord, and not be so quick to snap at them or sulk in my own moodiness for whatever petty reason.
Please, help me to focus on the good along with the bad and sadness of this world Lord. I know my story isn't done, your will for me isn't finished. How can I be of a servant for you today? How can I show my kids and my husband how much I cherish them and love them today? How can I grow more in my faith with You, today?
Lord, you have a new beautiful angel with you today, named Cora. Please comfort her parents to know that she is safe and healthy with you and that they will one day see her again. Thank you for this little girl and all the children in this world, for there is no doubt that children are your gifts to us, even when so often are undeserved. Thank you for this new day. Amen.
Life is just too precious and short!
Cherish every moment with those you love!
A celebration of Cora's life will be held at 1:00 PM on Tuesday, February 10, at Grace Community Church, 1600 S. Anderson Rd. Newton, Kansas.
Burial will follow at the Pleasant View Cemetery in rural Elbing.
In lieu of sending flowers, a memorial has been established to construct the Cora Playground, an extension of the children's ministries department at Grace Community Church.
Click here for 'Cora's Lullaby' written for her yesterday.